A Surprise Design Wedding: Herman Miller Acquires Maharam

National
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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Palio by Alexander Girard, 1964. (Courtesy Maharam)

Palio by Alexander Girard, 1964. (Courtesy Maharam)

Herman Miller is acquiring the renowned textile firm, Maharam, bringing together two of America’s most design-centric companies. Founded in 1902 in New York, Maharam has gained a reputation in recent decades for commissioning textile designs by leading contemporary designers like Hella Jongerius, Tord Boontje, and Paul Smith, and reissuing classic designs by Verner Panton, Gio Ponti, Alexander Girard, and many others. Led by Michael and Stephen Maraham, the company has cultivated a strong connection to the design community and developed products guided by the taste and vision of the brothers. According to a release by Herman Miller, both Maharam brothers will stay involved in the company for at least the next two years. Senior executives with the company will also stay in place.

Checker Split by Alexander Girard, 1965. (Courtesy Maharam)

Checker Split by Alexander Girard, 1965. (Courtesy Maharam)

Herman Miller, of course, has very strong design credentials as well. The Zeeland, Michigan-based company is indelibly linked to the hey day of midcentury modernism, having produced iconic pieces by Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi and others. The company’s Aeron chair redefined workplace seating in the 1990s. Like Maharam, Herman Miller commissions leading contemporary designers under the creative direction of Ben Watson. “The cultures of the combined organizations are highly compatible—we share an unwavering dedication to authored design, product innovation, and operational excellence in service to our customers,” said Watson in a statement. “We are also unified in our commitment to sharing our success with employees and in giving back to our communities through environmental sustainability and socially responsible business practices.”

“Much as we’ve struggled with this decision, our philosophical kinship with Herman Miller helped make this difficult step a far easier one. Beyond our shared objectives in design leadership, we consider Herman Miller to be an esteemed organization intent on doing well by its staff, clientele and the community. We believe they have the complementary intellect and resources to ensure Maharam a bright future while valuing our spirit and ways, and permitting the continued evolution of our unique approach,” Michael Maharam said in a statement. “Herman Miller’s potential to provide the wherewithal to pursue important new initiatives, as well as an established reach into both retail and international markets and the greatest possible strength of association, offers a powerful lever in achieving our design-centered strategic vision.”

Point by Paul Smith. (Courtesy Maharam)

Point by Paul Smith. (Courtesy Maharam)

Agency by Sarah Morris. (Courtesy Maharam)

Agency by Sarah Morris. (Courtesy Maharam)

Optik by Verner Panton, 1969. (Courtesy Maharam)

Optik by Verner Panton, 1969. (Courtesy Maharam)

Repeat Classic Print by Hella Jongerius. (Courtesy Maharam)

Repeat Classic Print by Hella Jongerius. (Courtesy Maharam)

Aftermath by Studio Job. (Courtesy Maharam)

Aftermath by Studio Job. (Courtesy Maharam)

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